What I Learned at AWS re:Invent

Shannah Van Winkle December 12, 2017


Voice of the Customer is the holy grail for any fast growing software company. As the VP of customer success at VictorOps, I look for every opportunity to interact with our customers. And what better place than AWS re:Invent, where 50,000 of your closest cloud computing friends gather once a year in Las Vegas?

Over the three-day event, our team had the opportunity to listen to thousands of software makers talk about their DevOps challenges, successes, and aspirations. Some common words heard?

  • Reliable
  • Scalable
  • Data-driven
  • Unleashed
  • Transformed
  • Intelligence
  • Automation

Our Customer’s Aspirations

VictorOps customers spoke clearly and consistently about their aspirations in the incident management and broader DevOps space. Simply put, these technologists and leaders are looking for ways to accelerate innovation and deliver the future faster without burning out their teams.

Shift to “Own Your Code”

In service of these aspirations, there was a common theme of moving traditional NOC-type structures to more progressive DevOps models. The VictorOps team fielded a lot of questions from attendees about making developers available and the resistance they face—both from developers not accustomed to supporting their code or being on-call and from operations people wary of giving up the heroic role of being 1st-tier support when something breaks.

One customer in an Ops role shared:

“I tell the development teams ‘we’re not your maid.’ You guys set up your own alerts and fix your messes.”

Discussions focused on how VictorOps helps organizations shift the DNA of teams to enable this progressive way of working together across Dev and Ops without creating or exacerbating an “us versus them” mentality. Getting developers on-call (aka Own Your Code) can be a tough transition for some organizations, but the ones that practice this behavior see great improvements in their incident management processes.

Advancing Beyond Alerts

I was inspired by the stories VictorOps customers shared about using our platform for far more than “waking people up.” While our platform handles the basics—making sure the right people get paged for the right things—that functionality is table stakes. It’s not what differentiates functioning and high-performing software organizations (and our customers are the cream of the crop). Of course we care about people getting paged accurately and immediately, but what gets us out of bed each morning at VictorOps is the opportunity to help organizations up their game by optimizing their entire incident management workflow: respond, resolve, learn, improve.

Focusing on What Matters

It was ear candy to hear customers comment on our high level of service and the reliability of that service. Service mentality is part of our DNA at VictorOps, and it brings our team such pleasure when customers feel cared for and supported. The highest compliment? Customers offering themselves as references to help us bring more users into the VictorOps community.

Looking at 2018

In 2018, my team will be responding to all that we heard at AWS re:Invent and continuing to build an implementation framework for our customers that equips them with insights that meet them where they are and help move them further down the path of modern incident management.

What does that look like?
  • Faster acknowledgement of incidents
  • Faster remediation of incidents
  • The use of insights from those incidents to reduce occurrence down the road
  • A mentality of continuous improvement
  • A culture of strong collaboration across development and operations teams
What our customers describe as “flow.”

I left AWS re:Invent incredibly excited about what our customers are accomplishing and what they aspire to do in the realm of DevOps. Our customers spend less time responding and more time innovating, which is exactly what we want. I appreciated every conversation I had at the event, and look forward to more customer interaction in the future.

Want to share your VictorOps story? Let me know what you’re up to.

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